Free tickets offered to Britons under 26

Nearly 100 venues taking part in the scheme

LONDON -- In a bid to raise interest in the arts among young audiences, Britons younger than 26 will have the chance to go to the theater for free, culture secretary Andy Burnham said Tuesday.

The scheme, to be funded by the Arts Council, aims to give away 1 million tickets by March 2011 and will cost about 2.5 million pounds ($4.6 million) to fund.

About 95 regional and youth venues in England have signed up to the scheme and will give a proportion of tickets free to the under-26's.

"A young person attending the theater can find it an exhilarating experience, and be inspired to explore new horizons," Burnham said. "This investment means that a whole new audience will get the chance to enjoy the best our theater has to offer."